Haroshi is a self-taught sculptor whose subculture-inspired practice effortlessly straddles spheres of pop and fine art. His signature wooden sculptures are made from recycled skateboards, taking form in toy-like figurines which blend together features of human and animal. Colourful concentric patterns are the byproduct of his one-of-a-kind technique where stacks of skateboards are glued together before being cut, carved, painted and polished by hand. While the finished sculptures evoke Japanese wood-carving traditions, such as Inami, they also nod to contemporary pop artists like KAWS and Jeff Koons. Haroshi also layers skateboards onto flat surfaces, as seen in works like Mosh Pit (2019) which, with its cacophony of texture and colour, acts as a subverted Abstract Expressionist painting. With brand collaborations including Nike and Apple, as well as a host of high-profile fans - skate icon Tony Hawk and Nike CEO Mark Parker amongst them - Haroshi is an artist whose work has intentionally mixed what was traditionally considered ‘high and ‘low’ art.
The unseen is an important part of Haroshi’s approach, with his sculptures often incorporating a symbolic gesture inspired by the ancient Japanese sculptor Unkei. Unkei would place crystal balls inside his Buddha sculptures to represent the Buddha’s soul, and by extension the duality of inner and outer self. Haroshi homages this idea with small pieces of scrap metal hidden in the centres of his sculptures. While these ‘souls’ are not visible in the final work, their existence speaks to the spirit that lives within his process and materials. The scratches and scrapes that scar Haroshi’s signature medium - skateboards - carry the physical stories of their previous owners in tandem with the immaterial essence of counter-culture and community.